Having kids has dramatically improved Sophie White's health since she now quite literally needs to flee the house to escape her kids
The Man and I have often remarked on how living with small children is exactly like living with wild animals.
Without the faeces everywhere of course... oh wait.
Obviously, I adore the little b*st*rds and so I try to put a positive spin on things:
"He's like an adorable little puppy," I say as I attempt to wrest the shoe he is gnawing back from Baby 1.
"More like an adorable Rottweiler," huffs the man, restraining Baby 1 as I hide the chewed up shoes and a now-deflated inner tube he got at earlier.
(I know what you're thinking, maybe we're just a bit crap at parenting.)
At meal times, Baby 2 (the smaller one, well not smaller but younger – aged 1 he outweighs his 4-year-old brother already) will demolish his meal then whatever is within reach before moving on to our leftovers. If a discarded chicken bone strays too close, he will extract every last scrap of meat with the precision of a hyena (or a cannibal), it's a little unnerving.
Most parents know that roughly 20% of parenting is made up of shouting and the other 80% is made up of hiding from your
animals children. As the babies have gotten older, more and more of our time is spent hiding in shifts in various parts of the house. I'll be in the kitchen, running the taps to conceal the sound of a bag of crisps being opened – Baby 2 has a really good ear and a nose for crisps. He's basically a velociraptor in baby form – fast, highly intelligent, shows no mercy when he comes across his prey (us). While I'm secretly eating, The Man is pretending to go to the loo while actually reading the Guardian on his phone for 45 minutes in the bathroom.
Hiding from kids is a perfectly healthy activity but unfortunately it's also a competitive one. Your spouse will constantly be on the watch for any sign that you're trying to slip away. If they notice you're gone, they'll be on to you in seconds, ruining the lovely bit of me-time you're enjoying crouched inside the linen cupboard eating the Rolos you hid in there earlier (that's if the kids don't get to you first). This is why I've had to get much more creative in my hiding especially since the advent of my second child.
Pre-kids I was a keen runner. Well, runner would be a slight overstatement – it was more of a sweaty, crying-shuffle. Also keen wouldn't be the word exactly either, I was more of a grudging runner. After having kids, the fear of getting back into running (would I simply pass away from the shock of exercise after two years of Pop Tarts and couch?) was far outweighed by the need to get the hell away from my family by any means possible.
The Man keeps an up-to-date tally of all the times I get to escape the family unit and then cashes in on the 'banked me-time' to 'spend' on his own hiding/me-time. It's a fairish system except for the time he argued that my attending my granny's funeral counted on the leader-board as 'me-time' – he's a stickler in some respects. Oddly however, he doesn't count exercising as shirking parental responsibility. It's a strange kind of logic but because he hates exercise so much he sees it as a punishment, a bit like homework and therefore doesn't deduct equivalent hours from the leader-board. Yes, it's convoluted but it's a system that he is wedded to.
Before kids, when I used to go running, it would usually coincide with some annoying-but-obligatory task, such as cleaning the bathroom or writing thank-you cards. Running was a form of sanctioned procrastination for me. It’s a healthy activity, so it’s better than ordinary procrastination. I have learned that, once you have a child, procrastination is quite simply out of the question. Not a single moment can be spent idle, because the to-do list in your head is infinite and is now no longer simply arranged according to chronological imperative.
My internal to-do list has a new filing system. It’s chronological, sure, but now it’s cross-referenced with activities that can be done at the same time — like brushing your teeth in the shower. Or tasks that can be completed with a baby strapped to your front (cooking, cleaning, wheeling a bicycle and a pram at the same time – don’t ask). And, of course, activities that can be slotted into nap time (work, feeding and cleaning myself ).
Now I no longer run as a means of procrastination, but as a means of hiding. I’m not running for my life, but from it. I am fleeing The Man, Baby 1 and Baby 2 who, let’s face it, give me nothing but sh*t, both literally and figuratively.